Allotments are an increasingly important resource for wildlife, and encouraging wildlife can have many benefits for allotments and the communities around them – better pollination for crops, natural control of pests as well as opportunities for learning and leisure activities.

Carder bumblebee harvesting nectar

Wildlife requires two fundamental things: somewhere safe to breed and shelter and somewhere to forage throughout the year.

The links below are very good sources of information, and here are three highlights.

– We might know that ivy is a good habitat for wildlife, but may not realise that it is necessary to leave it to mature and get really thick and gnarled to be of the most use. Although ivy will grow in shade, it will only flower in full sun when mature, so don’t trim it all every year. The flowers in autumn give all sorts of insects food to fill up on before hibernating, the fruits feed the birds in late winter, and a thicket of ivy provides a nesting place for birds and shelter for insects and other animals.

– Consider making a bog garden if you are unsure about having a pond, or if you already have a badly drained area. It should need less maintenance than a pond too.

– Be untidy! Attracting wildlife is a good excuse to let the grass grow tall and seed, the thistles flower, and the nettles and brambles to make big clumps.

Wildlife Trust: Really useful ideas and projects to encourage wildlife 

“If you want to enjoy the chirrup of birdsong, the red faces of goldfinch as they land to pick the seeds from a strategically sown teasel, or the beauty of a butterfly border, the ideas below will provide you with a fantastic range of practical advice”

Wildlife trust factsheets

Natural England: lots of leaflets, a very good one for ‘Wildlife on Allotments’

Chiswick Horticultural Society: Plan for a wildlife sanctuary – interesting design

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: doesn’t just consider birds in the wildlife section, try:

A – Z of a wildlife garden

Homes for insects

 From Warwickshire Wildlife Trust:

From a wildlife perspective there are a number of things that could be highly beneficial to wildlife at relatively little cost.

 1. Installing bird or bat boxes in large trees nearby.

2. Discouraging the use of pesticides on the site.

3. Lay or plant a new hedgerow if possible (winter task).

4. Install bee boxes across the site.

5. Plant/encourage wildflowers around your crops – great for bees – will distract unwanted bugs.

6. Install a pool/pond, if possible, with permission.

7. If you have a large number of vacant plots, consider turning a couple into wildflower meadows.

8. Create dead wood piles, which is valuable habitat for invertebrates.